The Extraordinary Women’s Exchange (EWX), sponsored by the the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce, creates a unique experience for women to build community, network, connect, and engage with other extraordinary women in the Greater Richmond Region by fostering dialogue between smart, motivated women and by inspiring personal and professional growth.
Annually, EWX hosts workshops, social events, and Real Conversations that feature the area’s most interesting and innovative women.
The 2015-2016 lineup is being released this month, so it is a pleasure to interview Cassandra Naville, the incoming president of EWX. In her day job, she is the commercial relationship manager, and a vice president, at SunTrust Bank. Scroll down for our Q&A.
10 Questions for our Truly Amazing Women: Richmond Chamber’s Extraordinary Women’s Exchange
Truly Amazing Women: Tell us about your organization. What is your mission?
Cassandra Naville: At EWX, we strive to deliver on many levels; however, recently we have emphasized providing leadership-based programming with very focused topics. We provide an experience via various platforms — through “Real Conversations as well as workshops and socials” — that is unmatched. It’s an exchange of networking, ideas, knowledge, tips, inspiration, and of course some of the most extraordinary women I have had the opportunity to meet throughout my career.
Truly Amazing Women: Who are your members, and what do you offer them?
Cassandra Naville: Our member base is actually quite diverse. We have a mixture of women entrepreneurs, corporate ladies, retirees, and even students. We feel we can engage all women regardless of where they are on their professional horizon.
Truly Amazing Women: What are some of the programs you offer, and how have they been received by members?
Cassandra Naville: What don’t we offer! There is literally something for every woman, and I say that sincerely.
We have our Real Conversations events, which feature fabulous speakers from throughout the Richmond Region. These leaders, who are well thought of in the community, bring personal experience and passion to the table with engaging topics like “Women Driving Change” or our upcoming event on Oct. 28th “Women & Men Leading Together for Success” (which will be a lot of fun and provide some fantastic insights).
We also have more intimate workshops that offer everything from more serious topics such as money management, to fun and delicious topics such as decorating cakes.
Last but not least, we have socials and special engagements that are reserved for our Passport Ladies. Our Passport program is a VIP membership that offers exclusive event access, specialty seating, and of course a super flashy name badge to wear proudly, just to name a few.
Our members have been very engaged with our programming. They come for various reasons and are often willing to share feedback so we can continue to grow. Some are there to network to drive business, some just want to share discussions with other like-minded women in their community, a few come for the wine … and of course I come to build and engage in our community because I find there to be an extraordinary value in exchanging with those who are my neighbors.
Truly Amazing Women: You are the incoming president — what are your goals for 2015-2016?
Cassandra Naville: My goals for this year are to take the groundwork that many extraordinary women have laid before me, and continue to build on that foundation. I am extremely open to hearing what our ladies want to see, and delivering on those commitments I make. I want to see women touched, empowered, and inspired by what they gain coming to our programs and paying that forward to their peers, children, parents, and friends in the community. Most of all, I want to have fun and continue to engage with my community.
Truly Amazing Women: What made you want to join this group? And what are some of your favorite aspects of it?
Cassandra Naville: Well let’s face it, Stephanie Phillips with the Greater Richmond Chamber is pretty awesome! However, as I’ve gotten to know the other ladies both on the committee and within our network, I am so pleased to be part of such a wonderful group. I have learned from others, and have been inspired to do more in my community and to take time to take care of myself. The diversity and strength of our women enables me to gain perspective that is priceless!
Truly Amazing Women: Why do you think it is important for people to join networking groups like this one?
Cassandra Naville: Because we as women need to join together to lift each other up, and not bring each other down. Networking is about so much more than where your next client is going to come from, or how many hands you shake, or cards you drop … it’s about developing relationships. I think we gain the most when we are willing to listen, maintain an open mind, share ideas with others, and create a unified front.
Truly Amazing Women: What is your most favorite, and least favorite, aspect of networking?
Cassandra Naville: My favorite? I love meeting new people and learning about who they are and how they’ve come to this point. The story of their business or career path is neat to learn about as each person is unique. I want to do business with those who want to do business with me, and it all starts with a relationship built through a thoughtful conversation and understanding the value that I can bring to the table. I moved here from Arizona four years ago only knowing one or two people. Networking has enabled me to meet friends and new clients, and gain a deep understanding of what makes this community so amazing.
My least favorite aspect of networking would probably be the “pitch.” That happens when people come up and immediately give me their pitch and exit without any further conversation. It’s definitely a numbers game in some aspects, but I think it is important to understand the value that you can bring to someone before presenting a product. It’s like someone trying to sell me a lawnmower when I have no grass. If they took the time to get to know me, they may learn that my good friend just bought a house with a yard and happens to be in the market for a new mower.
Truly Amazing Women: When it comes to networking well, what are your top tips for others?
Cassandra Naville: Remember to have fun, be yourself, and don’t be scared to walk up to total strangers and engage them in conversation. I always make it a point to introduce myself to those who are standing alone, or seem to be nervous. I think we have all been there before, and it helps to have someone break the ice sometimes.